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Why Kegels are important for more than your sexual health

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Kegels are famous for their role in sex, but did you know they're good for your health?

Kegels are an exercise that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime — the workout simply requires you to flex and hold your pelvic floor.

One little flex for better sex

You've probably completed an occasional Kegel workout without even realizing it. Kegels are an exercise that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime — the workout simply requires you to flex and hold your pelvic floor. Just try to imagine the way your pelvic muscles feel when you really have to pee but you're trying desperately to hold it in. See? You're most likely doing a Kegel right now.

Kegel exercises are well-known for their role in sexual pleasure. Anytime you work out a muscle group, whether it's in an erogenous zone or not, you increase the ability of blood and oxygen to reach the area. Increased blood and oxygen flow translates into heightened sensitivity, which is especially fabulous in your intimate areas. Not only that, increased pelvic tone can cause your vagina to flex strongly and efficiently during sex. Bottom line: Kegels can greatly improve sexual response and the strength of orgasms. Now that's a workout we can all get behind.

Kegels: A multitude of benefits

But wait, there's so much more. As it turns out, Kegels improve health even beyond the bedroom. We spoke with Dr. Marc Leavey of Mercy Medical to find out about the other benefits you can look forward to if you add Kegels to your exercise routine:

  1. Reduced bladder incontinence. According to Leavey, the more you tone your pelvic floor, the less likely you'll be to pee your pants when you sneeze, laugh or go for a jog. Leavey explained, "The more you tone your muscles, the less likely you'll have to deal with urinary stress incontinence or bladder incontinence as you age."
  2. Bouncing back after birth. "There are few parts of the anatomy that undergo such deformation as the pelvis of a woman delivering a baby," Leavey said. "Just as exercises can help a sprained ankle get back into shape, properly performed Kegels can help return a woman's body to its pre-pregnancy condition."
  3. Treating and preventing prolapse. Without good pelvic tone (and especially after childbirth), women are at risk of a prolapsed uterus through the vagina. Um, horrifying. According to Leavey, "prolapsed organs eventually require surgery to correct," so any exercise that can prevent and lessen them is worth your time and energy.
  4. Reducing back pain. If you've ever done Pilates, you've probably heard an instructor tell you that the muscles in your core are part of your powerhouse and can help prevent injury. Sure enough, the muscles used in Kegel exercises count as part of your core. "Stresses in the pelvic floor can lead to back pain," stated Leavey, "so strengthening those muscles would likely reduce the pain."

A workout primer

Not sure where to start? Try flexing and holding for five to ten seconds, ten times a day. That's a great first step. Once you get the hang of Kegels, you can ramp up your workout to include a complete set of repetitions three times per day. After just a few weeks, you will likely notice a decrease in bladder incontinence and a boost to your sexual energy.

More about intimate health

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